City of Somerset will offer $3 off monthly sanitation fee for residential customers 65 years of age and older
City of Somerset leaders are hopeful a new discount available to senior citizens in the community will help alleviate financial strain caused by the rising cost of utilities.
The Somerset City Council unanimously passed a new plan as an addendum to the current fiscal year budget that will offer a $3 per month discount on sanitation fees for customers who are 65 and older. The plan comes on the heels of the current budget’s passage, which included a $5 monthly increase in residential sanitation rates to compensate for rising costs the city is experiencing due to inflation.
At the time the budget passed, council member John Ricky Minton asked Somerset Mayor Alan Keck to explore ways the city could offer a discount on the sanitation rate to seniors, as he felt the increase could disproportionally affect those who live on a fixed income.
In the weeks that followed, Keck discussed the issue with other council members and key members of his team and took the opportunity to visit with a 91-year-old resident to listen to the challenges he faces.
“You know, he has been on a fixed income for gosh, close to 30 years,” Keck said during the Aug. 14 council meeting when he presented the discount plan for a first reading. “That $5 [increase] did mean something to him. The city still has to move forward and protect ourselves for all our citizens. But I thought it was appropriate to honor that request, honor my word as I always will, and bring this before you.”
The plan’s guidelines for residential customers are as follows:
- A monthly discount of $3 off the current year’s sanitation rate, as determined by existing ordinance, will be available to qualifying residential customers. The 2023-24 rate is $15.56 per month; qualifying customers will pay $12.56 per month.
- To qualify, customers must be 65 years or older and the service address must be in the senior’s name. This discount is limited to one primary personal home address and does not apply to rental properties that may be in their name.
- The customer must enroll in person at the Somerset Utilities office inside the Energy Center, 306 E. Mt. Vernon St., and provide proof of age. Somerset Utilities will not be responsible for contacting customers about their eligibility.
- Eligible customers will have until Sept. 25 to sign up to receive the discount for the month of September 2023 and each month going forward. Retroactive discounts are not available.
- As customers age into the program, they will have until the 25th day of the month in which they turn 65 years old to start receiving the discount for that month. Should they fail to sign up by the 25th day, the discount will begin the following month.
Keck said he recognizes that there are some seniors, like the gentleman with whom he met, who won’t have transportation to sign up for the discount in person. But he vowed to accommodate those residents who “truly do not have transportation to get here or can’t get here” and encouraged them to contact his office if they need assistance.
“I appreciate the suggestion by the council to do this, and we’ll look at other ways as the city can catch up, if you will, to make this an incredible place to retire,” Keck said. “… I think this is innovative, I think it’s honoring a commitment, and I think it’s something the public will endorse and support.”
For information or questions about the City of Somerset Sanitation Department Senior Discount Program, call (606) 679-6366 or email [email protected].